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As kids we recited an insane dialogue which runs : “You remind me of the man.  What man ?  The man with the power.  What power ?  The power of who-do.  Who-do ?  You do.  What ?  Remind me of the man.  What man ?  The man with the power.”  Da capo.  Kids do crazy things.

I did something even crazier.  I left home as a teenager, spent years studying in a seminary and was, at age 24, ordained a priest.  As you may have learned in my book and this blog, I later left the priesthood and became an atheist.  But as I wrote here recently (“Priests Have More Power Than Batman”), according to official Church doctrine I still have my priestly powers, including the forgiving of sins (in emergencies) and even turning bread into Jesus’ body (could make a fortune if I went into the Jeezburger business).

Since posting that item, I had occasion to fly from Paris to Rome.  I had heard that my papal namesake was sick, so I thought I should join the crowds at St Peter’s to pray for the Pope (this is where the fiction starts).  Easy flying in easyJet, fine weather but a crowded plane.  Lady sits next to me.  Of “a certain age”.  Talkative.  Non-stop talker in fact.  She soon finds out I am too (“De ore leonis libera nos, Domine”).  Before long she knew my life-story and even the address of this blog-site.  I gave it to her, realizing I had met my match, hoping to get a moment’s respite by suggesting she browse the blog on her computer.  Big mistake.  She read the post about what reader “Steven Spielberg” called “the phony baloney of magic priest powers”.  Then  –  post hoc, ergo propter hoc ?  –  she had a massive heart-attack.  Right there on the plane, right next to me.  Frantic hostesses, powerless passengers, no doctor on board, just me the ex-priest, the former confessor, the Man with the Power.  She knew she was dying.  We were an hour from Rome and too far from Paris to turn back.  She begged me to hear her Confession and give her Absolution. 

You can imagine whatever ending you like to my story.  The one I prefer is my refusing to grant her Absolution but giving her the Miraculous Medal I  always carry in my pocket (just in case Blaise Pascal was right), which resulted in her recovery and joining me in St Peter’s Square.  I said it was fiction.

P.S.  Movie-directors reading this and interested in turning the story into a best-selling short film should know that I have a perfect suggestion for the leading rôle.

                                                 RIDENDA   RELIGIO     

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